Make This One Change to Improve Your Relationships, Communication and Productivity

One entrepreneur shares how a communication shift changed everything.

Photo Credit: PM Images/Getty Images. 

Two weeks ago an email came across my desk for a product inquiry from a distinguished TV lifestyle expert and former high profile news producer that like me, had two children and a passion for health and nutrition. I could have simply responded via email or text and sent her the product she requested, but instead, I picked up the phone to call her, and upon her answering, I introduced myself, referenced her email and told her that I had to call her because of our similarities. After only minutes over the phone, we became instant friends. My new friend who I will be doing more business with thanked me for calling and said, “I am so happy you called me — no one ever does that anymore.” In similar instances, I have picked up the phone to call CEOs, thought leaders, teachers and others that naturally are “very busy,” and to my surprise, they too have appreciated the phone call.

I am a communicator and have always valued relationships across the board. I seek to learn as much as I can about people and take satisfaction in conversations and time spent with the company I surround myself with, be it family, work colleagues, clients, and individuals I interact with on a consistent basis.

In my personal relationship with my husband, we try to limit texting and instead call each other during the day. While we may text for urgent questions throughout the day, we prioritize the phone calls even if they are brief. We coordinate our kids’ afternoon schedules, talk about how our days are going, toss out ideas for dinner and even remind each other to stay relaxed. A study demonstrating how text messaging could be ruining relationships showed that excessive texting caused dissatisfaction in relationships. I agree with this because of how tones and emotions can be misconstrued or misinterpreted through text messages. My husband and I find it more satisfying and enriching to speak, voice to voice, understand our tones and make our points clearly and efficiently.

The same “call instead of text” principle also applies in the workplace. We are all buried in email and texting, so much that many entrepreneurs and virtual employees have discussed loneliness, which is not only a growing epidemic, but also sucks productivity due to the lack of teamwork, collaboration, motivation, and accountability. The sounds of our voices are being drowned out by keyboard clicks as it seems an “easier” form of communication. But does easier equate to more productive, more rewarding and more valuable? Is it truly the better option? Contrary to what is perceived, most of us enjoy the face-to-face or personal interaction more than consistently having our noses in our phones. A recent study noted that the majority of millennials prefer talking to their colleagues in person. Of the 1,000 millennials surveyed, 19 percent preferred email and 14 percent preferred texting as their primary form of communication, while 51 percent opted for one-on-one meetings. So while the perception is that phone calls can be rude, intrusive, or downright awkward to most, the reality is that the voice-to-voice connection tends to do wonders for our relationships and growing our own connection to the people around us. So how can you become more of a phone person without having it intimidate you, or feeling like you are intruding?

Begin by connecting with the person, asking how they are doing and then getting right to the point. You’ll be surprised at how efficient you can be, alongside improving your relationship with that work colleague or client. And if it helps, you will not be dealing with auto-correct, accidental texts to the wrong contact, or even turning your own self into an introvert, particularly, if you’re an entrepreneur working from home, a coffee shop, or a small office.

Most important to my husband and me, our children do not have cell phones yet (we are holding off as long as we can), and we would like for them to grow up as face to face and voice to voice communicators, as there will be plenty of texting in their lives as it is. What’s more, there is a growing degree of social anxiety when it comes to picking up the phone and more people are shying away from it, due to inexperience, an inability to “edit” or “delete” the spoken word, or a fear of being judged. However, the more we practice, like anything, and the more we acknowledge that we are all human and that calls are not expected to be scripted nor “perfect,” the better we will become at communicating. It’s ok to tell someone that you do not know the answer or that you will get back to him or her. My intent is for my children to grow up confident and knowing how to build and nurture relationships. Email can be great for many things, but certainly not for genuine and personal relationship building.

Deep conversations and emotional fulfillment are valuable to me personally and professionally, hence why I trademarked Public Relation(ship)s®. Connecting with others over the phone, and in person when available, strengthens your ability to better connect with others through sincerity, warmth and emotion. As mentioned earlier, email and text messages do have their benefits, but conveying warmth and trust is not one of them. Verbal communication will never lose its value. And when it comes to family or those you love and care about, a text message does not even come close to a warm phone call where you can best express emotions to deepen that relationship, establish trust, and rid you of time consuming back and forth impersonal texting. Amongst the noise of “busyness,” it’s the meaningful “I love you,” “I miss you,” or simple “I was thinking about you and wish you a great day” calls that can most impact one’s emotions and happiness. Give it a try. Pick up the phone and you just might be “one call away” from meeting your next business prospect or new close friend, or even learning personal things about a long-time work colleague that you would have never learned over a text.

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